Over the course of one wild road trip, feuding childhood sweethearts get a second chance at love.
a Love Unexpectedly novel
Releasing February 14th, 2017
Over the course of one wild road trip, feuding childhood sweethearts get a second chance at love in this charming rom-com—a standalone novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Blurred Lines and Good Girl.
When Lucy Hawkins receives a job offer in San Francisco, she can’t wait to spread her wings and leave her small Virginia hometown behind. Her close-knit family supports her as best they can, by handing over the keys to a station wagon that’s seen better days. The catch? The cross-country trip comes with a traveling companion: her older brother’s best friend, aka the guy who took Lucy’s virginity hours before breaking her heart.
After spending the past four years and every last dime caring for his sick father, Reece Sullivan will do just about anything to break free of the painful memories—even if it means a two-week road trip with the one girl who’s ever made it past his carefully guarded exterior. But after long days of bickering in the car turn into steamy nights in secluded motel rooms, Reece learns that, when it comes to Lucy, their story is far from over. And this time, they just might have a shot at a happy ending.
Although listed as a title in the Love Unexpectedly Series, all books in the series stand alone.
Lauren Layne is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen romantic comedies.
A former e-commerce and web marketing manager from Seattle, Lauren relocated to New York City in 2011 to pursue a full-time writing career.
She lives in midtown Manhattan with her high-school sweetheart, where she writes smart romantic comedies with just enough sexy-times to make your mother blush. In LL’s ideal world, every stiletto-wearing, Kate Spade wielding woman would carry a Kindle stocked with Lauren Layne books.
“Spock, we’re giving you Horny!” my mom blurts out, apparently fed up with my denseness.
Her utterance is too much for my siblings to handle and they both burst out laughing, retreating into the kitchen to rejoin the party where there’s wine.
Oh what I wouldn’t give for wine right now.
“I, um . . . you’re giving me the car?” I ask.
“Because yours broke down,” my dad explains, walking forward to thump Horny’s dented hood.
“And this one’s . . . not broken down?” I ask skeptically.
Look, it’s not that I’m not grateful. My parents are trying to give me a car, I appreciate the sweetness of the gesture, it’s just . . .
Here’s the thing about Horny: he barely got us three kids through high school. I mean, Horny is the car that sputtered and shook making it the 3.2 miles to Jefferson High, no matter who was behind the wheel.
I’m even going to come all the way clean here and say that early on in my freshmen year, I was embarrassed showing up in Horny. Then I realized I was lucky to have a car at all, and well . . . I dunno, I guess Horny became a part of us Hawkins kids’ charm, because the station wagon was practically an institution from Craig’s high school reign all the way through Brandi’s.
But poor Horny quit working years ago. Much to Brandi’s chagrin, he gave up the ghost a mere two months before her high school graduation, and I spent the last bit of her senior year being picked up by my parents.
“He’s going to take you to California,” Dad says, giving the car another thump.
“Really?” I step forward and run a tentative finger along the familiar panel. He’s had a bath, so at least that’s something. “Because last I knew, he wouldn’t even make it out of the garage.”
“Yeah, well, we neglected him for a while, but he’s right as rain now,” Dad says, puffing out his chest as though Horny’s a fourth child.
“Like, as in he actually starts?”
“Purrs like a kitten,” my mom says with an emphatic nod, even though I know she doesn’t even like cats. “We didn’t believe it, but we took him to church on Sunday and there were no issues.”
I literally bite my tongue to keep from pointing out that this is hardly a feat. Sacred Presbyterian is 0.8 miles away from the house.
“You took Horny into a shop?” I ask, starting to warm to the idea of having a car again. I’m a little touched, actually. Money is tight for my parents. Dad’s a PE teacher, and Mom gives a mean winery tour, but the gig’s never paid much.
“Not exactly, it was more of a bartering situation,” Mom says.
“Yeah?” I say, going around to the driver’s seat, already giddy with the prospect of telling Oscar I’ll be able to come see him in Miami after all, even if I won’t exactly be riding in style.
“Reece agreed to fix him up.”
I’m lowering myself into the car as my dad says this, but I reverse so quickly I hit my head. My skull doesn’t even register the pain, because I’m too busy registering the hurt in my heart at the familiar name. “I’m sorry, what?”
“Reece,” my mom says, giving me a bemused look. “He’s always been handy with cars.”
“He fixed up the car in exchange for what?”
And then I feel—I actually feel—the air change around me as the side door to the garage opens, and a new presence sucks all the air out of the space.
I don’t turn around. I don’t move. But I feel his eyes on me. Over me.
“Reece is headed out to California too,” my oblivious mother chatters on. “It worked out perfectly actually. Now you two can ride together, and your dad and I don’t have to worry about you alone in the middle of nowhere with a twenty-something-year-old car.
They think the car is going to be the problem here? It’s not the car that’s toxic to me. It’s him.
Reece Sullivan. My brother’s best friend. My parents’ “other son.”
Slowly I force myself to turn, and even though I’m prepped, the force of that ice-blue gaze still does something dangerous to me.
He winks, quick and cocky, and I suck in a breath, and I have to wonder . . .
I wonder if my parents would feel differently about their little plan if they knew that their makeshift mechanic is the same guy that popped my cherry six years earlier under their very roof.
And then broke my heart twenty-four hours later.
Blurred Lines #3
Parents mean well. They always want to help but sometimes they don’t mind throwing you under the bus by doing so. Lucy is supposed to start her new job in California in two weeks – her car however decides to break down shortly before she wants to leave her childhood home. Her parents come up with a genius plan. Since her (secret) ex-boyfriend, the cheater, is heading the same way, why not share the family car to get there? Lucy is everything but thrilled but not much she can do as the car was promised to Reece to begin with.
Reece is seething. He has to deal with his ex for two weeks. The girl who used to mean everything to him. How are they supposed to stay civil when there is nothing but bad blood and hard feelings between them now. When they leave they both are dead-set on keeping away from each other. As their journey progresses each of them tries hard not to let the other one see what they both know is still there: their insane sexual chemistry and a hurt so deep that neither of them is over it yet.
“Go tell your family goodbye. Let’s get this nightmare on the road.” Right. Right. Because heaven forbid we put off the inevitable of finishing what we started years ago: destroying each other.
This story is told in both first person POVs and in flashbacks outlining Reece’s and Lucy’s friendship from when they were kids to the day they fell apart. While this is always a bit hard to pull off it worked with this book and I attribute it to the length of the flashback chapters. They aren’t overly long, just the right size. And through these chapters I learned who they were and it made it possible for me to view Reece in a better light. Because you see, he was really hard to love.
Lucy crawled on her hands and knees over to him, and he noticed the smashed Kleenex box in her hand. Without the slightest bit of hesitation, she sat beside him on the platform, swinging her legs around to dangle like his, and handed Reece the Kleenex box.
I’m usually very easy on the heroes in books and the heroines usually have it harder winning me over. This time it was the opposite. I love my alphaholes like the next girl but Reece was unfortunately too much of a jerk to Lucy and I just couldn’t connect with him. Granted, he had abandonment issues and insecurities but boy, the guy was testy. If it hadn’t been for the sweet connection of their childhood I would have given up on him. He was despicable to Lucy at times and he really deserved a casual hard kick in his family jewels.
“See, I just watched the way you attempted to juggle multiple girlfriends and failed, and then did the exact opposite.” He glances at me then, a mocking smile on his face. “Oh sweetheart. When did I ever claim you as my girlfriend?”
Ouch. He keeps repeating in his inner monologues that Lucy is a childish brat, when the only one acting like one is him.
“Bullshit,” he snaps, before lowering his voice and leaning forward. “You’re the reason we … broke up. Shit, were we even dating?” I lean forward. “I sure as hell thought so when I handed over my V card.” His eyes narrow. “You act like you handed it over easily. Like it didn’t take me all goddamn summer to get into your pants.”
Double – ouch.
Lucy didn’t let him get away with it, thankfully. While she had big reservations in the beginning of their road trip she tried, yet and again, to be nice and stay civil. I really admired how she stood up to her ex-boyfriend who hurt her so badly and didn’t let him drag her down. Which was a feat in my book since Reece really was an idiot a lot of times. I alternately screamed at my kindle or rolled my eyes at it. In the end I had a hard time rooting for them and thought Lucy deserved better.
While this wasn’t a complete winner for me it still had a lot of enjoyable moments. It was a quick, surprisingly angsty read with the road trip feel when you get to travel through the country, driving in a car, listening to whatever is on the radio and without having to hurry to get to your goal. Again, the reminder to not let my review sway you. We all have different expectations from a story so it might be totally down your alley!